So I Want A Smartphone- Help!

So I’ve decided it’s time to join the rest of society in the 21st century and buy a smartphone. I have spent a couple of days researching it, and it is just so complicated and stressful. Maybe you could help?

Here is what I want: I want to own my phone- no deposit, no credit check, no contract, pay-as-you-go. I just want to buy a phone, I guess they’re called unlocked, and then go to Walmart or something and buy a prepaid whatever for it. I know generally the specs I want my phone to have (4-inch screen, 5mp camera, wifi), for less than $200. I can do that, right? It seems just all so jumbled and fine-print-filled and confusing.

Why is this so complicated?? Or is it just me?

Can’t help with the rest…but yeah, it gets complicated. It isn’t just you. I made cell phones for over a decade. Now that I don’t do that any more, I actually had to buy a phone. It can get confusing.

Moto G. I think T-Mobile has decent pay as you go options, but as I’m a danged furriner I’m not sure.

second the Moto G

Moto G, get the US 16GB though.

Ok, my oldest son has the Moto G and he recommended it, too. So I can do that. Now, once I have the phone, I can take it to Walmart (not that I don’t hate Walmart but their StraightTalk thing seems pretty simple and inexpensive) and just get that? Right? No contract, deposit, or credit check? And do I need a sim card? I hate to admit that I don’t really know if I need that, but I don’t know!

Also, does that particular phone in that link have wifi? If I use it at home, I can use my wifi instead of my data, right?

Yes, the Moto G in the link is a GSM phone, so you do need a SIM card. If you want to go with Straight Talk, they do have a bring your own phone plan. Since the phone is unlocked, you have the choice of using a SIM card for AT&T’s network or T-Mobile. Choose one for whichever network has better coverage in your area. Note, you will not be paying AT&T or T-Mobile for service. Straight Talk buys airtime from them and resells it at a discount, so you’ll be dealing exclusively with Straight Talk. And it is prepaid, no bills or contracts. Just buy a SIM card, buy a $45 a month unlimited plan, and you’re good to go. I don’t know if Wal-Mart will activate it in the store, but you can do it yourself online.

And the phone will connect to Wi-fi.

Got it. Thanks for the info!

Tracfone recently came out with Android smartphones so there’s that option as well.

Virgin mobile has an android too

If you want an uberphone at a great price, buy direct from Google. Right now they are offering the HTC One for $599 and the Galaxy S4 for $50 more. The best thing about the Google Play Store editions is that they don’t have any carrier bloatware on them. Having said that, as a first-time smartphone user I’d just get whatever phone you can buy most cheaply. You may not even like it; my mother got one, but has basically given up on it because the screen is too small for her old-lady eyes.

One thing to note with StraightTalk: they throttle your data after 2.5 GB and may cancel your service if you use too much data (claims about being “unlimited” notwithstanding.) Otherwise it’s a great deal. Also, there’s no LTE service.

StraightTalk is basically Tracfone’s smartphone service.

Yes, I’m going with a cheaper phone. I’m not an old lady, but I have some old lady ways, and I’d never pay hundreds of dollars for a phone. That’s just crazy talk.

Getting ready to go to Walmart- I hope they have the Moto G so I don’t have to order one and wait for it.

About the 2.5gb- I don’t think I’d use that much, because when I’m at home I still have my desktop, laptop, and tablet. Hell, if I had a data plan for my tablet I wouldn’t even need a smartphone. But, anyway, if I do use my phone at home through my wifi, that doesn’t use any of the data plan, right? I will make sure to clarify that with the salesperson.

I’m pretty sure that Walmart doesn’t carry unlocked Moto Gs, only the Verizon version.

Right. I would order it from Amazon to make sure you get the phone you want. The Verizon model is CDMA and isn’t compatible with Straight Talk. It can only be activated on Verizon. If you want to use Straight Talk, you need an unlocked GSM phone.

Also, yeah. If you use Wi-fi, it doesn’t use any wireless data.

Not anymore, if you go with a SIM card using ATT&T’s network, you can use LTE. They will throttle you down to 3G speeds if you go past 2.5 Gigs. I just switched to Straight Talk and have LTE service on my Nexus 5.

I stand properly corrected.

The Moto G is hundreds of dollars ($200) unless you sign a contract.

You should know that just because a phone is “unlocked” it does not mean that you can go right out and get hooked up with any carrier. Most phones are built for a single carrier. A phone that is built for a carrier that uses CDMA technology (e.g. Verizon) will never work for a carrier that uses GSM (e.g. AT&T). There are exceptions, but you should probably choose which carrier you want to use first. Probably the easiest way to do this is to go to a store run by the carrier you want and buy the phone from them. I use AT&Ts GoPhone service, but I use a stupid phone (my phone cost $15) so I don’t know what the smartphone options are.
You will run into prblems if you try to find the absolute cheapest way to do it, then find out you have done it wrong and wasted your money. I have done this and wasted my money.

Here is a link to see Tracfone’s Android offerings. It asks for zip code because what you’re offered might depend on service area. I get four phone options ranging from $80-$130 (just the phone, no air time). Tracfone’s Android phones have triple minutes and there are separate buckets for talk, text, and data. So a 60 minute card (~$20 I think) gives you 180 minutes talk, 180 texts, and 180 MB of data.

You can probably find those phones cheaper elsewhere. I know home shopping network online often has Tracfone deals where you can get a nicer phone and something like 1200 minutes for $80-$100.

It’s done. Correct that Walmart doesn’t have the Moto G. I have no patience, so I bought a ZTE- I’ve never actually heard of ZTE, but it was about the same price as I was going to spend on a Moto G, and it has a nice big screen and seemed decent. I’m satisfied.

The only thing I am having trouble with is that when I allowed google to load in my info, it put into my contacts everything that I’ve ever emailed or has emailed me, plus all of my Facebook contacts. I just want my phone contacts that I manually enter to be there. So I’ll have to figure out how to take all of those people out of my contact list.

My solution was to buy a friend’s old iPhone, got a TMobile SIM and activated online for $30/mo for unlimited text/data and 100 minutes of voice. I use GoogleVoice for some calls if I need more.